Waking Thought

If you saw The Matrix you will recall that after Neo takes the red pill, he awakens into a world far more grim, grimy and perilous than the one in which he had been sleeping.

Some awakenings have that effect.

In another movie, A Beautiful Mind, John Nash finally comes to grips with his delusions, and without fully losing them he finds a way to recognize them and avoid their siren song.

Some awakenings require work to maintain.

In Atonement, one of this year’s Oscar nominees, young Briony wakes up from her world of make-believe only when it’s too late to take back her mistake.

Some awakenings are late.

But when all is said and done, it’s far better to be awake than asleep.

I’m not into self-revelatory blogs, so I’m not going to spin this one out in self-indulgent fashion. But I have had an awakening of sorts recently, one of those slow, astonishing awakenings that jars, frightens, depresses and delights one all at the same time. I gather that an awakening probably isn’t real unless it does all those things.

The permutations of this awakening continue to jolt me on a daily basis as things unfold. I wish I had the time and the talent to write it all down. Maybe someday I will–when my beard is as white and as long as Gandalf’s.

But the most interesting aspect of this revelation is that it is not regarding anything amazing, sensational or even earth-shattering. I find that when the implications play out in the real world, my newfound realizations are little more than what everyone else has already known for some time. By comparison, I’m an infant.

Much of this has been prompted by two books I’ve been reading simultaneously: Anna Karenina and Difficult Conversations. And what they have been hammering home is that my obsession with my own point of view has been far more absolute and ironclad than I ever could have dreamed. This will come as no surprise to those who know me best.

To refer to yet another film, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it’s hard not to feel as if I have been shot with the Point-of-View Gun.

The Point-of-View Gun

In a nutshell, this is my discovery: Obsession with one’s own point of view is akin to being in a coma. The body is functioning; the heart is beating; digestion is working; synaptic connections in the brain are firing. But you aren’t actually relating to anyone in any meaningful fashion. The people with whom you do “interact” are kind enough to fill in the blanks for you, which is a gracious and lovely thing for them to do, but ultimately it fails to disturb the coma. Some are painfully aware of your coma and so walk away, pretty much resigning you to your gurney.

I could say more, but I’ll leave it there for now. Thinking about all this stuff is making me second-guess the advisability of posting about it. Some readers are wondering where the other shoe is going to be. It’s there. And it weighs a ton. But for now let’s hope there’s some profit in a brief introduction.


3 thoughts on “Waking Thought

  1. Although, in defense of your previous self-indulging ignorance, many enough of us, or me at least, are sometimes as obsessed in your point of view. I find myself reading your posts at least twice and have a couple of our past conversations nearly memorized (and that was what, five years ago?). Your frankness and second-guessing keeps your musings refreshing and real. Keep it up, if only when you sleep… dream big, captain.

  2. Matthew Melton

    Russell–you’re very kind, but, as Tolstoy remarks at the end of “Anna Karenina,” not many so-called epiphanies bring a lot of change, so my entrenched habits are probably safe for a while.

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